Reynolds American is infecting fast-growing tobacco plants with a genetically-modified virus in a bid to develop a potential vaccine for coronavirus, reports Politico.
The brand, which is owned by British American Tobacco (BAT), bought a small lab in Kentucky back in 2014 and was quick to focus on alternative uses for tobacco plants. The lab produced a tobacco-derived component for one of the first experimental Ebola treatments, according to Politico.
In wake of the recent coronavirus outbreak, Reynolds is pursuing a new experimental treatment, although work is still in the very early stages and it could take longer for a vaccine to be developed than the virus is acutely dangerous. Nevertheless, the company has been in contact with the Trump administration’s health department saying it could provide a sample as early as March, according to Politico.
“People can be cynical. But the fact is that we might be able to help,” said Hugh Haydon, Kentucky BioProcessing’s chief executive officer.